Running Time: 131 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
Jack Nicholson is probably one of the few men who can go through the bulk of a film with a ridiculous plaster strapped across his nose and dressed like a cross between Gareth Gates and The Man From Del Monte, and still come out of it with his credibility in tact. Its because the man is an incredible actor possibly THE actor and thats one of the main reasons the at-times boring Chinatown remains so watchable.
Nicholson is Jake Gittes, the quick-witted hard-boilled P.I. who ends up in well over his head when he becomes embroiled in a scheming businessmans dastardly plot to make himself some big bucks by drying out the San Fernando valley. Its not exactly an edge-of-the-seater as far as crime hooks go agribusiness isnt really noted for its white-knuckle qualities but this isnt your average wishy-washy private tec pot-boiler.
Director Roman Polanski and writer Robert Towne give us a film with the look of an old school murder-mystery but a story that creates its own formula. The direction is masterful and the story-telling painstaking in content and detail, if not entertainment value.
But it is, to all intents and purposes, Nicholsons film. Hes literally in every scene, and the tale unfolds to us at precisely the same rate as it does to him. If Gittes isnt finding out about it, its not worth knowing. Alongside a similarly well-cast Faye Dunaway as the love interest and femme fatale of the piece, J-Nick produces a performance all would-be actors should be trying to emulate. Hes tough and he can hold his own, but hes also likable and caring and, in all departments, Nicholson is never anything other than totally believable.
To say this is Jacks best film is, in this reviewers humble opinion, ridiculous. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Shining are both vastly superior. No matter how well-made this one is, it’s slow-paced, tough-going and, for many viewers, won’t catch the imagination. But if you like a bit of noir and fancy watching something that requires all of your attention, this is definitely the film to see.
It's Got: A fantastic and unexpected ending.
It Needs: A fresh plaster for that injured hooter. Or at least a skin-coloured one.
DVD Extras A trailer, and some on-screen interviews with Polanski, Towne and producer Robert Evans. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10
Alternatives:LA Confidential, The Two Jakes
Its slow, and itll test your patience, but it might just be worth it.